About Last Night

“I promised Wael to join him at the spinning class this evening, but I think I’m going to take a rain check, as I really don’t regret any of the calories that made their way –amusingly- to my hips through my sophisticated palate, over dinner last night. It will be like cheating on your husband with Jason Statham, will you really regret it? Naa!”.

1 day earlier

My husband and I left the car with the valet and entered RARE, a charming restaurant, nestled in Ashrafieh.

For its 10th anniversary the menu has been re-invented by The Chef Cynthia Bitar, daughter of Nazira Bitar, and graduated from Chef Paul Bocuse school in Lyon. The new menu features an indulgent selection of starters and main courses accompanied by a rich wine list and an exemplary service.

Our host Wael Haddad recommended I try the oven-baked tomato and goat cheese tart as a starter. It was impossible to resist this flavorsome piece of heaven, lay on a crispy golden pastry and served with a delicious side salad. A star dish!

Tomato,jpg

As for the main course, he suggested I have the oven-baked sea-bass with black rice calamari and chorizo. OMG! I it was so delicious I could lick the plate clean. What a creative combination of ingredients, a delectable choice worth every bite.

SeaBass

While clinking glasses with Cedric and Rania, -our friends- who joined us over this beautiful occasion, I stared with eyes wide open at Wael coming our way showing off with a banoffee pie, guaranteed to impress. Thumbs up!

I always wanted to eat at Rare restaurant, but was always postponing it, well in case there are other procrastinators out there looking for a one-of-a kind-meal, stop searching and book your table at Rare.

Below recipe was among my first posts and I proudly share it back!

Banoffee Pie Verrine Style

BanoffeePie1-Blog

Ingredients

  • For the base: 60g butter, melted
  • 250g digestive bicuits
  • For the caramel: 100g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk
  • For the topping: 4 bananas, sliced
  • Cocoa Powder, to dust
  • Chocolate curls, to decorate
  • Whipping Cream (optional)

Preparation

  • Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter and stir. Divide the mixture into 12 small glasses and press into an even layer. Chill the base while you make the filling.
  • In a non-stick saucepan place the butter and sugar. When the butter melts and the sugar dissolves add the condensed milk and stir continuously. Bring gently to the boil. As soon as it thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Spread the caramel on the biscuit base evenly and chill for about 1 hour or until firm.
  • Slice the bananas, dust liberally with cocoa powder and layer over the caramel.
  • Finish with whipping cream and some grated chocolate. Serve.
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White Beans Salad

White Beans Salad

Hello World! Isn’t it a beautiful day or is it just me! Kids are at school, which makes it much easier for me to concentrate on blogging and to stare at my screen and finish typing one whole sentence without being interrupted.

As much as I look forward for the school bus arrival in the afternoon, I SOMETIMES look forward for its departure the next morning. I must sound like a terrible mom, but it’s only when they’re at school that I enjoy my time guiltlessly! I can sense a lot of like-mindedness here, yes?

I can train 2 hours at the gym instead of 1, and when I go with Serge, I know that in between the reps we can leisurely chat, make plans or even exchange stories about Kaia and Axel.

Yesterday’s main topic was “beans”! Since meat is not right up my alley, Serge makes always sure that I’m at least having my share of pulses instead.

It’s kind of obvious, with so many healthy recipes on my blog, that I love healthy food, such as beans. They are very popular in my kitchen especially around this season with every grocer I visit, displaying elegantly his Aysha Khanum beans boxes. As the summer comes to a close, Aysha Khanum or shell beans (a.k.a Cranberry beans) are harvested. Beans inside the pods are now ready and plump. One variety is white while the other is white and blotched with red color; for the record, those red spots disappear once the beans are cooked.

During the last days of summer, I buy a lot of fresh shell beans, divide them in portions and freeze them for winter. It’s so easy to do; the pods open right up, releasing four to five beans each, I place all uncooked in freezer bags. The advantage is that they cook much faster than dry beans and taste much better.

My kids favorite white bean recipe is Fassolia bi Lahme, kind of a bean stew cooked with red sauce, meat chunks and served with rice on the side. I prefer the white bean salad, that probably you don’t need a recipe to make it, but I couldn’t help but share, especially after gazing at this gorgeous photo that I enjoyed styling while Serge was setting his camera and lightings. While on the surface this dish seems so simple in reality delivers some serious flavor!

P.S My Instagram account is @oryanmaya

White Beans Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups / 450g white or cranberry beans
  • or 1 can 450g of cooked white beans (washed and drained)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish

Preparation:

If using fresh shell beans, place them in a pressure cooker and cover with water (the water should come 1 to 1½ inch above the beans level). Cover and lock the lid. Let it cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for further 10-15 minutes. Release the pressure and wait for the cooker to cool entirely. Open carefully and drain. Alternatively use regular saucepan, cover with water and cook until beans are soft and tender.

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook as per previous instructions inside a pressure cook, but for about 50-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and drizzle over the beans. You can adjust the dressing to taste.

Garnish with parsley and serve with Lebanese pita bread and spring onions.